FremantleMedia chief eyes ‘high stakes game’

Frot-Coutaz: TV biz is now polarized

CANNES — The international TV biz is becoming a high-stakes game similar to making features, according to the new head of FremantleMedia.

Hosting the producer-distributor’s traditional Monday breakfast at the Mipcom TV sales market, CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz said the TV biz was polarized, with blockbuster shows like “Got Talent” at one end of the spectrum and niche fare at the other.

“The stuff in the middle is going away. We are going to end up with something that looks like the movie business.

“It is becoming very difficult to launch a new show. More and more big network shows, both in the U.S. and U.K., stand little chance of succeeding unless they have serious marketing,” she said.

However, Frot-Coutaz added that FremantleMedia, whose formats include “Got Talent,” “Pop Idol” and “X Factor,” was well-positioned to take advantage of the emerging market conditions. “There is more demand for content than ever,” she said. “For the first time, multi-channel and online distribution is starting to come through.

“This opens up a lot of opportunities for us. It is important to build brands that cut through, which we can do with our big entertainment franchises like ‘Got Talent,’ for the third year running the world’s biggest format.”

At Mipcom, which bowed Monday, FremantleMedia Enterprises announced a first-look deal with U.S. digital studio Vuguru for international rights to the studio’s original commissions.

FME will distribute Vuguru original content across all digital, linear and home entertainment platforms outside the U.S. and Canada from 2013.

Vuguru was founded in 2006 by ex-Walt Disney Co. topper Michael Eisner, and is also backed by Canada’s Rogers Media.

“This is a longterm strategic play and enables Fremantle to exploit genuine multi-platform content,” said Frot-Coutaz.

Vuguru’s titles, such as drama “The Booth at the End,” are available in long-form formats suitable for TV and shorter versions for mobile devices.

David Ellender, global CEO of FME, said, “This deal builds on and augments FME’s burgeoning digital strategy. New media studios such as Vuguru are home to some of the best and most exciting content and ideas anywhere in the industry.”

FME also added new titles to its 20,000-hour catalog including U.S. dramas “Battleground” and “Brandt Point,” and factual titles “Half the Sky,” “Mind of a Chef” and “Styled by June.”

“Battleground,” a political thriller, is the first Hulu drama repped by FME.